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  • Writer's pictureMichael Paulyn

A Few MIT Researchers found a Fatal Flaw in Apple's M1 CPUs and it's Unfixable

Updated: Oct 27, 2023

For the last decade, Apple has become known for being the crème de la crème when it comes to computer devices. Their ability to set high standards and, for a time, create new gadgets left much of the world delighted and in a frenzy. But as time passes, things change, and Apple continues seeing many changes and issues.

Recently, an obscure hardware attack known as "PACMAN" showed some serious vulnerabilities to Apple's M1 processor chipsets. This detrimental flaw allows attackers to easily access arbitrary code execution on any macOS system, meaning the hacker can use almost any code they want and cause absolute chaos.

MIT researchers found that although the memory corruption bugs are fixable, damaged software features aren't patchable. Originally, PACs (pointer authentication codes) were an extra line of defense in charge of looking for and securing any unexpected changes in the parts that store memories in the device.

PACs focus solely on taking care of any memory corruption vulnerabilities, always ensuring pieces of memory don't fall into the hands of attackers. Hackers look to overwhelm the operating system while attempting to redirect memory to a new location, ensuring any sensitive info is easy to make off with forever.

It will be interesting to see how Apple can mitigate these risks and ensure that users are safe and secure from cyberattacks. As more people take to their handheld devices, a problem, even as minor as this, can be detrimental to a company's future success.

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